'I've got a second chance': Cancer survivor's mission to find missing people

Sprowston man, Dibs McCallum, says he has a "second chance" helping people after his skin cancer scare.

Sprowston man, Dibs McCallum, says he has a "second chance" helping people after his skin cancer scare. - Credit: Dibs McCallum

A city man has revealed how his life changed when he was diagnosed with cancer - and how the battle prompted him to dedicate his life to finding missing people. 

Dibs McCallum, a professional photographer from Sprowston, was diagnosed with skin cancer 13 years ago.

The 41-year-old said: "I remember it like it was yesterday.

Dibs McCallum says the gear that Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue provided costs "hundreds of pounds".

Dibs McCallum says the gear that Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue provided costs "hundreds of pounds". - Credit: Dibs McCallum

"I was drying my back and caught something which really hurt - turned out to be a mole growing out my back which can cause issues.

"My then-pregnant wife saw it and said I needed to go to a doctor straight away."

And in the summer of 2009 the results of the biopsy confirmed that Mr McCallum had skin cancer.

Dibs McCallum, from Sprowston, is running a half-marathon for Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue.

Dibs McCallum, from Sprowston, is running a half-marathon for Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue. - Credit: Dibs McCallum

He said: "From there it's all a bit of a haze and now doesn't seem real.

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"What with my wife being pregnant at the time as well, it was very stressful."

But after a successful operation, and eventual news Mr McCallum was in remission, it has spurred him on to give back.

And he is now due to run a 13.1 mile half-marathon in Sandringham on June 19 in aid of Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue (NORSLAR), which Mr McCallum has become deeply involved in.

As well as volunteering as a search technician, Dibs McCallum is also trained as a first responder for the water team.

As well as volunteering as a search technician, Dibs McCallum is also trained as a first responder for the water team. - Credit: Dibs McCallum

He added: "I see it as being given another chance and I like to grab every opportunity that comes my way - which is where NORSLAR came in.

"They help search for missing people and they have trained me last year as a search technician and also part of the first responder water team.

"What they do is amazing and I can relate to what these families go through when someone they care about goes missing - it's tough.

"Since my diagnosis it has given me more drive to do what I can to help."

Dibs McCallum with his daughter, Eliza. Picture: Dibs McCallum

Dibs McCallum with his daughter, Eliza. Picture: Dibs McCallum - Credit: Archant

Surviving cancer has given Mr McCallum a new outlook on life, leading to his volunteering and change of career.

He said: "Prior to my diagnosis I just drank and smoke - which I don't do any of now.

"It's given me perspective and makes me want to achieve more in both my life and for others."

Mr McCallum has set up a JustGiving page for his half-marathon.